Effectiveness of the homelessness service system

There is a large body of evidence on the effectiveness of individual homelessness services and programs in terms of client outcomes. Overwhelmingly this evidence shows that individual services and programs are effective in bringing about positive housing and non- housing outcomesfor their clients; they are also cost-effective. However, in establishing the effectiveness of the homelessness system, it is necessary to consider the degree to which agreements, overarching strategies, funding and service delivery arrangements enable the SHS system as a whole to deliver outcomes in relation to national homelessness indicators — rather than outcomes in relation to outcomes for users of a particular service. At a system level, indicators of effectiveness include the number and proportion of homelessness people in Australia, as well as national data on clients’ housing, income and workforce status. Interactions between SHS and other government systems may also be evaluated, such as health, justice and welfare offsets. The table below summarises key indicators of SHS system effectiveness. The evidence shows that the homelessness system falls short on many of the indicators examined. This is in part due to influences that are external to the homelessness system, such as structural trends outlined above. In part, it is due to endogenous institutional settings including:  the stop-start nature of funding, which affects the type of services delivered, workforce retention, skill and development, and innovation, such as the ability to bring promising pilots to scale  insufficient resourcing  ‘leakage’ from other parts of the system (e.g. institutional exits into homelessness from health and justice services)  a lack of coordinated responses across the government system as a whole